THE REDHEADED INDIAN
Self Release (available from Noisetrade.com)
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Lots of young musicians leave home and end up in Nashville. Most end up either making the reverse journey or deciding to downsize their careers in the name of something more probable than the seductive notion of headlining at the Ryman Auditorium. If the Red Headed Indian–actually Florida native Caroline Kingsbury–has to retreat, it won't be because she lacks the chops to make the Ryman ring. Her six-track EP Honey showcases a young voice that's surely more memorable than most.
Kingsbury counts Joy Williams (The Civil Wars) and Ray LaMontagne among her influences, two pretty good role models. You can certainly hear analogous LaMontagne housebroken-but-also-heartbroken themes in Kingsbury's songs and, like Williams, hers is a voice that's as fragile as Limoges cup one moment and like a bar of iron the next. Its qualities reminded me quite a bit of Lori McKenna with more twang. There are, of course, loads of great voices out there but three things make Kingsbury stand out: her sense of phrasing, her ability to build a song, and her cross-genre facilities. My favorite track was "January." It has memorable lines–January is a lovely dame/She sparkles the future of heartbreak and pain–and Kingsbury punctuates them to give the composition a syncopated feel even when parts of it are crooned on the offbeat. The effect is that the performance feels simultaneously sweet and edgy. "From Colorado" is a clinic on building a song a different way. It opens with power chords and a furious start, then settles into a quiet acoustic middle, regroups for soulful, soaring vocals, then pulls back a second time and fades out with cadences evocative of a chain gang finishing a long day. She also toys with a country/soul feel ("Please Come Home") and rounds off the EP with "You," a selection that initially evokes a lullaby but then morphs into something more lush and mysterious.
I can't promise that The Red Headed Indian will light up the charts any more than I can attest whether she has an ounce of native blood in her veins. But I can say that that Honey is a tantalizing, tasty teaser for what I hope will come next. Rob Weir